UK 'On The Up and Open For Business,' Hunt to Tell Davos

'We boast some of the best and brightest businesses in sectors of the future like digital technology and life sciences'

Alliance News 18 January, 2024 | 9:29AM
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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will tell political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum that the UK is "on the up and open for business".

Hunt's trip to the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Davos to join the annual gathering of international movers and shakers will be the first time a UK chancellor has attended the forum in five years.

The Treasury said the chancellor will use his visit to champion the UK's ambition to be a science and technology superpower and pitch that the country is ripe for investment from the international business community.

Ahead of his trip on Thursday, Hunt said: "I'll be in Davos to tell the world that Britain, a nation of great innovation, is on the up and open for business.

"We boast some of the best and brightest businesses in sectors of the future like digital technology and life sciences.

"It is these areas of strength that are going to drive growth across the UK economy in years to come."

His comments come despite the UK recording a small increase in inflation.

The Office for National Statistics revealed on Wednesday that consumer prices index inflation rose to 4% in December, up from 3.9% in November – marking the first increase since February last year.

The rise caught traders off-guard and pushed back expectations that interest rates could be cut soon by the Bank of England.

While in Davos, the chancellor will host a panel discussion, featuring the likes of the chief executives of Microsoft and pharmaceutical giant Moderna, on global headwinds in technology and the impact they could have on Britain.

He will also participate in a panel titled Technology in a Turbulent World, discussing the role of technology in economic growth.

Hunt will use the trip to outline Britain's approach to regulation and use of artificial intelligence following the UK's hosting of the world's first AI safety summit at Bletchley Park in November, Treasury officials said.

They said the senior Conservative, who will be the first UK chancellor to attend the Davos summit since 2019, will also hold a series of bilateral meetings with the bosses of world-leading companies to encourage inward investment into the UK.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron has also been at the forum representing the UK government.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour's shadow business secretary, is there with shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Responding to the chancellor's remarks ahead of his visit to Davos, Reynolds said: "after 14 years of economic failure, the Labour Party is now the party of business in British politics.

"Labour has a plan to deliver growth, unlock investment and make people better off.

"All the Conservatives are offering is five more years of failure."

Reeves told a panel event organised by the forum on Wednesday that Labour's economic approach would differ from so-called "Bidenomics" because the party "just don't have the luxury" to spend as heavily to expand the supply side of the economy.

Labour would rely more on planning reforms and non-fiscal levers to boost growth if it wins the next election, she said.

Asked whether the so-called "Bidenomics" of the US President would form a blueprint for Labour's plan if the party wins the next election, she said: "our aims are similar and our diagnosis is similar… but the policy prospectus in the UK will be different.

"For me it will be primarily the non-fiscal levers to grow our supply."

Labour would aim to get debt down as a share of GDP and then "subject to that" would make long-term investments, she said.

Reeves said "all of our policies, including the commitment to get to a zero carbon economy" would be subject to its fiscal rules.

It comes after the party published a campaigning brief that failed to mention its commitment to invest GBP28 billion annually into green projects.

By Patrick Daly, PA Political Correspondent

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